What are Fancy Gray Diamonds?

What are Fancy Gray Diamonds?

Are you familiar with fancy gray diamonds? They are also known as steel diamonds, slate diamonds, silver diamonds, or by other names, and are becoming increasingly popular among those seeking unique engagement rings.

These exquisite gems have been in existence for centuries and have been used to create magnificent pieces of jewelry. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know before buying your own fancy gray diamond, such as:

  • Are salt and pepper diamonds the same as gray diamonds?
  • Are fancy gray diamonds suitable for engagement rings?
  • Where can I find the most exquisite gray diamond engagement ring?

What Is a Gray Diamond?

A Gray Diamond is a genuine diamond with a gray tint caused by hydrogen and boron impurities that affect the diamond’s structure. These impurities are the same ones found in rare blue and violet diamonds. The demand for Gray Diamonds is relatively low compared to other fancy color diamonds, and they can vary in shade from very light gray to very dark gray.

While Gray Diamonds can be primary hues, they are commonly found as secondary colors in blue and violet diamonds. As primary fancy color diamonds, they are less valuable but become more expensive when present as secondary colors in blue and violet diamonds.

Fancy Gray Diamonds that have a pinkish, brown, yellow, or greenish yellow secondary color are considered less valuable than those with blue or violet hues. Gray Diamonds are also referred to as Steel Diamonds, Slate Diamonds, Charcoal Diamonds, Smoky Diamonds, Salt and Pepper Diamonds, Silvermist Diamonds, Silver Diamonds, or Pigeon Diamonds.

Where Can You Find Gray Diamonds?

Gray diamonds can be sourced from various countries including Australia, South Africa, Russia, Brazil, and India. Although the renowned Argyle mine is renowned for its production of pink and red diamonds, it also yields pale gray diamonds that have the distinctive Silver mist appearance.

In addition, the Argyle mines in Australia were a significant source of brown diamonds until their production ceased in 2020.

Gray Diamonds vs. Salt and Pepper Diamonds

Salt and pepper diamonds have become a trendy but controversial addition to the jewelry industry. While some individual sellers have embraced them, traditional diamond retailers are less enthusiastic.

These diamonds are characterized by their low clarity grades, often rated I3 or lower, and are marred by black inclusions that resemble salt and pepper specks.

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The clarity of a diamond refers to the presence or absence of natural inclusions, which are impurities or blemishes that form as the diamond crystal structure develops within the earth’s crust. These inclusions can result from damage to the crystal structure or from the presence of other minerals during formation.

Black spots are one common form of inclusion, and the clarity grade of a diamond indicates the prominence of these spots. However, for customers, understanding the nuances of clarity can be confusing.

I1 Clarity Emerald Cut Diamond
SI1 Clarity Emerald Cut Diamond

Salt and pepper diamonds are diamonds that have the lowest clarity grades, meaning that they have internal inclusions that make them appear speckled. Typically, fine jewelry retailers do not sell these types of diamonds because they are considered to be of low quality. However, the diamond industry has found a way to market these lower quality diamonds to the masses by branding them as trendy “salt and pepper diamonds”.

While salt and pepper diamonds may appeal to those who appreciate a unique look for an engagement ring, it’s important to be cautious when purchasing one. External blemishes can cause a diamond to split if struck hard enough, whereas internal inclusions do not. The majority of people prefer not to see black spots in their diamonds, making low clarity diamonds less desirable.

It’s important to note that salt and pepper diamonds should only be purchased from reputable retailers who disclose all the inclusions and make sure they are internal. Buyers should also be aware that low clarity diamonds less than 1 carat should not be priced as high as colorless diamonds with better clarity.

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In some rare cases, fancy light gray diamonds with low clarity can be marketed as salt and pepper diamonds. These diamonds can cost a few thousand dollars because they are classified as fancy gray diamonds, not colorless diamonds.

Salt and pepper diamonds may have a unique appeal, buyers should exercise caution when purchasing them and only buy from reputable retailers who disclose all inclusions and ensure they are internal. It’s also important to be aware of the pricing and understand that low clarity diamonds under 1 carat should not be priced the same as colorless diamonds with better clarity.

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Black Diamonds vs. Dark Gray Diamonds

Fancy gray diamonds come in different shades and color intensities, and some fancy dark and fancy deep gray diamonds may appear almost black. However, the source of their hues is distinct from that of black diamonds.

Black diamonds are only available in one color intensity: fancy black diamonds, which are usually opaque or translucent and have been irradiated to enhance their darkness. The hues of black diamonds are the result of dark mineral inclusions, and heavily included diamonds have been irradiated to become natural black diamonds.

Fancy Dark Gray Diamond


Fancy Black Diamond

In contrast, the gray hues of fancy gray diamonds are not caused by inclusions, so even though a black diamond may resemble a dark gray diamond, they are not the same. Therefore, purchasing loose diamonds with lab reports from a dependable grading laboratory is critical.

It is crucial to understand the distinctions between black and gray diamonds to make informed purchasing decisions. Fancy black diamonds are synthetic, whereas fancy gray diamonds are not. Black diamonds are often treated, whereas gray diamonds are typically not.

Furthermore, black diamonds are not graded on the same scale as white diamonds, while gray diamonds are. Therefore, it is necessary to work with reputable suppliers who can provide detailed information on the diamond’s origin, treatment, and grading to guarantee a wise investment.

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Grey Colorless Diamonds vs. Grey Fancy Colored Diamonds

Distinguishing between fancy gray diamonds and gray colorless diamonds, brown diamonds and brownish colorless diamonds, and fancy yellow diamonds and yellow-tinted colorless diamonds is important. A diamond is considered fancy gray only if the gray tones reach a specific level of tone and intensity. However, some sellers may market low-quality, colorless diamonds that appear gray as fancy gray diamonds to unwary buyers. Although these diamonds share the same chemical, physical, and optical characteristics, they are not the same.

Even faint gray and light gray diamonds can resemble colorless diamonds, making it crucial to avoid spending money on diamonds with light gray tones that appear colorless. When purchasing fancy gray diamonds, one should check the diamond grading report to ensure that it is a fancy gray diamond and not just a colorless diamond with gray hues.

So, how do colorless diamonds appear gray? Fancy light gray diamonds appear nearly colorless, but with a fancy gray diamond certification, technically they qualify as colored diamonds. However, most people won’t detect the color intensity variation between a gray diamond and a colorless diamond.

When shopping for a colorless diamond, it is important to be cautious of diamonds that appear to have a darker gray tone as it may indicate a poorly cut diamond. A poor cut quality can compromise the durability and integrity of a diamond ring. It is important to note that diamonds that appear gray online may actually exhibit a traditional sparkle and fire when viewed through a video or viewer.

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However, it is essential to distinguish between a light gray colorless diamond and a Silver mist colored diamond. The latter is a light gray diamond with a medium tone and moderate saturation, giving it a smoky light gray appearance instead of barely gray.

While there is no standard for differentiating a Silver mist diamond from a regular gray diamond, gemologists have a generalized agreement on where the hues and tones of certain trade names come from, similar to padparadscha sapphire or saffron-colored diamonds.

When shopping for a colorless diamond, it is important to examine the cut quality and avoid diamonds with a gray tone, which may indicate poor cut quality. It is also important to distinguish between light gray colorless diamonds and Silver mist colored diamonds, which have a different appearance due to their moderate saturation and smoky light gray hue.

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Best Places to Buy Gray Diamonds

The demand for fancy colored diamonds does not often include gray diamonds, resulting in fewer retailers keeping them in stock. However, Leibish & Co. stands out as an online retailer that specializes in a wide variety of diamond colors.

Leibish & Co. offers the largest and best selection of fancy colored diamonds among recommended retailers, including high-quality diamonds that come at a premium price. They provide 360˚ views of colored diamonds, making them the best option for those who want to see their diamond before purchasing.

In their inventory, Leibish & Co. has a section dedicated to less popular colors like fancy white and fancy gray diamonds. They currently have over 80 gray diamonds available in various intensities ranging from fancy gray to fancy dark gray. These diamonds have excellent saturation, setting them apart from grayish colorless diamonds.

It’s worth noting that Leibish & Co. only sells natural gray diamonds, though some may be treated for color. Be sure to review the accompanying diamond grading report before purchasing.

When it comes to pricing, a fancy gray diamond with a bluish hue that’s under 1 carat tends to be more expensive than a fancy deep gray diamond over 1 carat with no blue hue.

Popular Gray Diamonds

Natural fancy color diamonds are among the rarest and most valuable gems in the world. While some colors, such as pink and red, are particularly sought after, gray diamonds have not historically been a major player in the market. In fact, both fancy gray and fancy white diamonds have little notoriety due to their rarity, with no notable specimens having been discovered throughout history.

However, gray diamonds do play a secondary role in the fame of two of the most renowned colored diamonds in the world: the Hope Diamond and the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond. Both diamonds are classified as fancy bluish gray diamonds, with the former being the most famous diamond in the world.

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The Hope Diamond’s origin and history have been shrouded in mystery and intrigue, and it is now on display at the Smithsonian museum in Washington DC.

The Wittelsbach Diamond, later known as the Whittelsbach-Graff Diamond, is also a fancy deep grayish blue diamond. After being recut by Lawrence Graff, it was graded as a fancy blue color grade with no gray modifier, significantly increasing its value.

These famous colored diamonds are often displayed at museums or featured in royal jewelry collections, showcasing the beauty and rarity of natural fancy color diamonds.

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How Much Do Gray Diamonds Cost?

Gray diamonds have a unique pricing system. Both fancy gray and colorless diamonds can produce gray hues (though colorless diamonds produce light gray hues), which makes the value of gray diamonds quite different.

Although gray diamonds may appear similar, their prices and values are determined by various factors. Let’s review some of these factors that we’ve already discussed.

Like other diamonds, the price of gray diamonds depends on their color, carat weight, clarity, and cut. However, with colored diamonds, the importance of these quality factors shifts.

When it comes to gray diamonds, the hue is the most crucial factor. For many colored diamonds, having a uniform hue is uncommon. However, primarily gray diamonds cost less than grayish-blue or grayish-violet diamonds. For instance, a 1/2 carat grayish-blue diamond can cost three times more than a 1-carat dark gray diamond.

According to Leibish & Co.’s gray diamond inventory, a fancy light gray diamond with a saturation of .88 carats costs approximately $7,500. Many high-quality, natural colorless diamonds are also available in this price range.

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On the other hand, Leibish additionally has a magnificent blue gray diamond that costs over $20,000 and weighs 1.15 carats. The shade of blue is also not particularly definite. That is how uncommon and expensive blue-hued diamonds are.

You can see that the color and intensity level only can result in significant pricing variations for fancy gray diamonds. Additionally, lab-created fancy gray diamonds are 30–50% less expensive than fancy gray diamonds that are mined.

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Gray diamonds may not be as popular as other fancy colored diamonds, but they offer a distinctive option for a non-traditional engagement ring. Fancy gray diamonds come in a range of shades, from the slightest hint of gray to almost black.


Compared to diamonds with blue or violet hues, standard fancy gray diamonds are more affordable. Those with a greenish-yellow tint fall in the mid-range. However, they are sometimes mistaken for heavily included salt and pepper diamonds. It’s essential to note the difference between fancy dark gray diamonds and fancy black diamonds.

Greenish Yellow Gray Diamond
Greenish Yellow Gray Diamond

While fancy gray diamonds may be less sought-after, they can still be relatively inexpensive for a natural fancy colored diamond. However, if they have rare secondary colors, their price can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Despite the low demand for fancy gray diamonds, there is a vast spectrum of colors available. With careful consideration and effort, selecting a fancy gray diamond can result in a stunning stone for an engagement ring.

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